Konnichiwa, minna-san! How is everybody doing in their various locations? I am doing quite well here in Miyakonojo, Japan. Miyakonojo is a city located near the bottom of Kyushu. The people here are great! We have a branch here of about 30 or 40 people, but we are here to help it grow!
Yesterday we taught a lesson to Miki chan, a 19-year-old girl who the senkyoshitachi (missionaries) have been teaching for a few months. She is ready to be baptized, but she has not yet received parental permission (in Japan you do not become an adult until you turn 20). Their primary concern seems to be that they do not know enough about the church to make an informed decision, so in our lesson we discussed what we can do to help them learn more about the church. We came up with some ideas of how to help them learn more in a non-threatening manner, and we are hoping to be able to meet them sometime so they can see what the senkyoshitachi are like.
We taught Miki chan in the home of the Kuroki kazoku (family). They are a subarashi (wonderful) kazoku, but they are moving to a different city in about a week! It is quite unfortunate timing considering Miki chan’s current situation because the Kuroki kazoku has been quite instrumental in fellow-shipping her. Oh, well. I guess we will have to find another family to baptize to replace them!
I have already had lots of great food here! We eat gohan (rice) just about every day, which is just fine with me. 🙂 Last night we had ban gohan (dinner – literally "evening rice") with the Kuroki kazoku after the lesson with Miki chan. Sister Kuroki actually made a Korean dinner; I don’t know what it is called, but it was very scrumdiddlyumptious.
My first experience with church in Nihon was quite interesting. I didn’t understand much (just a few words here and there), but that’s alright. Nihongo will come. I was invited to speak first in Sacrament meeting (just a simple introduction and testimony), which was fun. The branch members are all very nice. Many of them speak Eigo (English) quite well, which was a pleasant surprise.
My new doryo (companion) is Jensen choro (Elder). He is super awesome! His catchphrase is "super good!" which he has apparently picked up from saying it in Eikaiwa (English class); he now says it many times per day. He is looking to expand his vocabulary, so if you have any ideas… 🙂 Jensen choro is from Utah, but has lived with his family in Nihon for the past ten years. However, he did not become fluent in Nihongo during that time; even so, his Nihongo is super good!
Our apartment is apparently one of the better ones in the mission. It is on the sixth floor of our building. There are actually four of us here: Myself & Jensen choro and Smith choro & Henrie choro. Smith choro is the district leader. They are all very fun and superb senkyoshitachi. They are great!
My last fireside in the MTC was with Stephen B. Allen (Managing Director of the Missionary Department). You may recognize that name because he had spoken with us twice before in the nine weeks I was at the MTC. His firesides are always quite wonderful. This time he spoke about being "True to the Faith" and we sang parts of that hymn throughout his talk. As a preface, apparently just before leaving his house (about 40 minutes earlier) Brother Allen did not know yet what he was going to talk about to the senkyoshitachi at the MTC, so he prayed for inspiration. After driving a couple blocks he knew what he was going to talk about. Upon arrival at the MTC, President Nally approached Brother Allen and asked him to speak on a specific topic (which President Nally usually does not do), and lo and behold! it was the topic which had come to Brother Allen’s mind earlier. Apparently the Lord wants his senkyoshitachi to know that it is important to remain true, particularly in the sense of relationships with other people. In other words: missionaries must lock their hearts. Their is no room in the mission for dating in the mission, and Brother Allen stated in strong terms that if any senkyoshi has not yet locked his or her heart then they need to repent, and if they are not willing to do so then he invited them to pack their bags and go home. One of our greatest temptations as missionaries will be to forget who we are and who we represent, but we must not forget. God wants and needs everything from us; are we willing to give it to Him? That is a question that every good senkyoshi should ask each day, and then we can be better senkyoshitachi throughout the day as we keep in mind the reason that we are out here.
I am just about out of time. I know that this is the Lord’s work. He is heading it, and no matter where you serve if you do His will and seek His guidance you can and will be successful in doing His work. I love you all and hope that you have a great day, a wonderful week, and an amazing year!
Tyler Madsen choro